Jumping worms, which are native to Japan and Korea, arrived in the United States in the 1920s as fishing bait and as hitchhikers on imported plants and soils. Jumping worms first appeared in New England in the last decade and have upended local gardens and lawns for several years. The jumping worms have been found in several counties in Connecticut.
Jumping worms live in the leaf litter and the top few inches of soil on the forest floor. They contribute to major forest ecosystem disturbance by negatively impacting soil structure and reducing plant growth.
Dr. Gale Ridge, the Associate Scientist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, wrote in a statement:
They destabilize the soil, increase nutrient leaching and erosion, increase drought vulnerability, cause turf detachment from soil and unstable rooting, root desiccation, and low germination. Many native trees and plants (including garden plants) cannot germinate or develop in this altered soil, while invasive species thrive. These worms have the potential of infesting New England all the way up into Canada and the Eastern Seaboard.
Currently, there is no known prevention to jumping worms, however, an organic fertilizer used by golf course managers has been effective in eliminating jumping worms. The fertilizer made from tea seed meal irritates and eventually kills these worms when applied to the soil.
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